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Author Topic: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.  (Read 1021 times)

SusanV

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Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« on: November 02, 2018, 06:25:27 PM »
Hi all. My husband and I are still in the planning stages for downsizing to a smaller house, purchasing a (Class A) motorhome, and spending a year or two traveling. I've been reading the forum voraciously, including lots of useful links, and two issues are starting to gnaw at me.

It seems most people on here are pretty savvy when it comes to mechanical/technical aspects of motorhomes, with knowledge that makes my brain spin. We are not "handy-persons" by anyone's standards, though we're willing to learn, and capable of learning when it isn't a Friday at 5pm (Gin and Tonic hour). Did most of you come into it with skills, or did you learn them along the way?

The second issue I'm getting a bit nervous about it energy availability and consumption. We lean heavily toward having or adding solar panels, but this decision to take to the road will be primarily a work decision, and our work requires extensive internet use. How realistic is it to have online access, and to draw power for several hours of laptop use each day (two laptops being used at the same time)? I'm starting to worry that we really won't be able to maintain the ability to work, and that would be a stopper.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2018, 07:24:07 PM »
We've taught many people here, and you too can become an alumnus.  Obviousy some people are more technically inclined than others, so the learning may be easy or more arduous, but most things are all that hard once explained. The biggest stumbling block is that you probably have never had to think much about where your power and water comes from (and goes to after use), or any sort of limit on the quantity. It takes a bit to get your mind wrapped around it.


No worries on power, though you will have to learn a bit of restraint vs home.   If you use campgrounds you can have shore (external) power continuously available, either 30A (3600 watts) or 50A (12,000 watts) depending on the RV chosen. In between you can operate from battery power (time depends on the battery capacity) or use the motorhome's own generator as back-up 120v power.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

JudyJB

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2018, 09:31:00 PM »
I work online and am online at least 6 hours most days.  Here are some suggestions:
  • You can buy 12 volt laptop chargers from Amazon.  These will enable you to draw 12 volt power from house batteries so you do not always have to plug them into a 110 volt connection if you are boondocking.  DO NOT try to plug these into your vehicle cigarette lighter, as they will quickly drain your vehicle battery and you will not be able to start it.  I know this from personal experience.
  • Look near the inside television/s for a 12 volt "cigarette lighter" connection to plug your new charger into.  If it is too far away, you can buy a 12 volt extension cord!  Really. 
  • Make sure you have a generator, preferably one that is built-in, and you can start by pushing a button.  It will charge your house batteries.  I have two such batteries, and they will run my laptop for many hours, but you need a generator as a backup.
  • You will have to do some planning find good internet at a potential campground. A lot of commercial campground offer "free" internet, but it may only be accessible in the clubhouse at certain hours, or near the office, neither of which they tell you until you actually arrive. You might want to buy a mobile "signal booster" to help, but even they do not always get you a good signal because the campground has horrible slow service that cannot be boosted. Use RVparkreviews as a better source of information and check Verizon's map.  And Verizon really does have the broadest coverage, so you will need to buy at least one or two mobile hotspots and sign up for a data plan.  Be aware there will be no downloading movies or watching live TVs as these use too much bandwidth and you will get slower speed as you go over your monthly limit. 
  • Check out these people for more help: https://www.technomadia.com/blog/

Good luck!
Full-timing for over six years in a
2012 Fleetwood Tioga Ranger 31N

Gizmo100

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2018, 10:14:08 PM »
" Did most of you come into it with skills, or did you learn them along the way?"

The answer is yes.... I have a good bit of background in plumbing and electrical systems. The RV's systems are a little different. I have spent hours reading this forum along with countless web pages about the items in our TT. I almost always do my own home repairs so I expect to do the same with the RV.

"How realistic is it to have online access"

Some camp sites offer internet WiFi...However most of the reviews state that it's slow. I use my cell phone as a hot spot for my laptop. But it will depend on cell phone service.

"I'm getting a bit nervous about it energy availability and consumption"

A lot of this will depend on what else you are using besides the laptops. My laptop will run 4 plus hour on it's own battery(It's well over 5 years old). But if I plug in my external hard drive that number drops. So I have to plug in.
I would suggest setting up a 12 volt power point to plug in the laptops. I think solar is a good idea if boon docking is your plan. But you may want to consider a small generator to at least recharge batteries when needed.
2017 Heartland Trail runner 24 SLE
2017 Ford F150 3.5 Eco boost

Isaac-1

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2018, 12:29:13 AM »
I am much like the others, was sort of jack of many trades before buying my first motorhome, grew up on a farm, studied engineering in college, spent time working in the IT industry doing computer admin work, owned my own vinyl sign and screen printing business, etc.  The RV stuff is somewhat different, but easy enough learn, of course I am the type that will read a pdf of a service manual of something I don't own while laying in bed trying to go to sleep. 

You don't have to be a master mechanic to own a motorhome, but it does certainly help to know how to turn a screw driver.  I don't do all the work on my coach myself, though I do a fair amount, using examples of things I have had to have done to my coach this year, I changed the alternator and the fan clutch myself (those were last week), but paid a local shop to change the ball joints, fabricate a new automatic parking brake hydraulic hard line, and fix the dash air conditioner.  This week I replaced an electrical outlet in kitchen on my coach because the the clamps in it were getting loose and plugs would not stay plugged into the upper outlet anymore.

The point is even if you can only do some of the simple things, you can save a ton of money vs paying a shop $100-$150 per hour to do things like change a light bulb, or rewire an electric outlet.  Also if you are not mechanically inclined, and maybe even if you are, you should strongly consider buying an extended warranty, there are companies out there that will cover the major mechanical stuff on motorhomes that you can sign up for even on a used coach up to 15 years old with one major brand and 20 years old with another.  I recently met a guy that reps for these service companies, I think he mainly deals with RV dealers getting them to sell to their customers, but from talking to him they really do sound like a potential deal vs the potential of a major component failure.  Of course it is all about the odds, but may be a good safety net to think about in case of something expensive like a transmission or engine failure.

As to living off grid using solar, it really depends on what you want to power, and how off grid you want to be.  Modern notebook computers draw only a fraction of the power they did just 5 or so years ago, the current 15 inch Dell Inspiron will run for over 7 hours doing constant web surfing on a 40 watt hour battery (playing videos would probably be half that).  That means they draw just about 6 watts per hour in typical use, though I am sure that is with screen brightness turned down, etc.  Even double that for a heavy user with a 17 inch screen, and you are looking only 12 or so watts per hour.  My AT&T Mobley celluar wifi internet hotspot draws under 3 watts with 5 wifi connections streaming some video, and has a max draw of about 6 watts worst case in a fringe reception area.  Assuming no use of a printer, and 2 people with typical current notebook computers doing general web related activities, getting internet over a mifi like device will consume under 20 watts per hour of electricity.

In an 8 hour work day that works out to 140 watts hours.

A 100 watt flat mounted solar panel will generate on average about 400 watt hours of power per day on a typical mid America day.  I have 4 100 watt panels mounted on the roof of my coach, and I know people that have over 800 watts of solar panels on similar size coaches, but that takes a lot of creativity to squeeze in.

Without getting into all the math I feel it takes about 200-300 watts worth of solar panels to cover the basic needs of living in an RV, that is to say power the controls on the propane absorption refrigerator, run LED interior lights 3 or 4 hours in the evening, power the blower motor on the furnace if cooler weather a few hours per night, operate the water pump, etc.  Anything you want to do beyond that and you need more solar panels or need to run the generator, you also need more to handle cloudy days.

If you want to power a notebook computer, watch TV, you need more panels, if you want to run the microwave oven off an inverter you need a LOT MORE.   With my 400 watts worth of panels I can typically last as long as I want to off grid with some power conservation in weather cool enough to not need air conditioning, though I would really like to have 600 watts of panels, and could dream of 800.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

Optimistic Paranoid

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2018, 08:12:23 AM »
The second issue I'm getting a bit nervous about it energy availability and consumption. We lean heavily toward having or adding solar panels, but this decision to take to the road will be primarily a work decision, and our work requires extensive internet use. How realistic is it to have online access, and to draw power for several hours of laptop use each day (two laptops being used at the same time)? I'm starting to worry that we really won't be able to maintain the ability to work, and that would be a stopper.

You haven't really made it clear if you plan to stay in private campgrounds, state parks, Walmart parking lots, or boondock in the middle of nowhere?

Many people who need Internet to work spend several hours every day in a public library, most of which have pretty good free wifi.  McDonalds and coffee shops are another possibility.  You usually aren't bothered if it isn't their busy time, with people waiting for a table, as long as you buy a soda or cup of coffee every so often.  Some people just park their RV in the parking lots near such places and mooch the wifi.  You will need an external wifi antenna on your RV, and possibly a booster amp.  The aforementioned Technomadia is definitely your best source of info on this sort of thing.

I knew one nomad who had a power strip in a daypack, with her phone, tablet, and laptop charger plugged into it.  She would find a table with an outlet near it, set her daypack on the floor next to it, have a single plug from the outlet disappearing into her daypack, and a wire from her laptop running down into the daypack getting power from her charger.

Where there's a will, there's a way!
Rule #1 for Boondockers: DON'T FEED THE VULTURES!
My Body is a Temple!  Ancient, Crumbling, Probably Cursed...
I don't like to make advanced plans.  They cause the word "PREMEDITATED" to get used in court!

SusanV

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2018, 09:25:27 AM »
Well, whew! That really is a load off my mind. I was pretty sure it was possible to work from an RV, since thousands seem to have done it before us, but I was really starting to feel like I'm woefully unprepared, and not entirely sure how to start. Your comments have solidified my resolve that we CAN make it work (and thank you, Optimistic Paranoid, for that final comment, reminding me that "where there is a will, there is a way", because there is certainly the will!).

I've copy/pasted all of your suggestions into my growing document file. It's heartening and encouraging to see how you all have dealt with connectivity. Thank you for that.

I also feel encouraged about the mechanical side of things. I'm quite certain we won't be able to do more than the rather basic repairs and adjustments, but it does now occur to me we've got time to take some classes. Wiring feels especially worrisome, since you can burn the whole thing down if you do it wrong, so that's a class we'll need to take. Having the contents of the black water tank spew at you isn't a pleasant thought, but if you get that wrong you can take a shower. No-one dies (at least, I don't think so).

Our plan (as of right now; this is a 3-5 year planning process, probably closer to 3) is to combine campsites with parking lots, etc, with some boondocking. Our work for the last 25 years requires us to be on someone else's schedule when we travel, so we want to be on NO schedule at all, which means stopping when we're ready, or when we find a view we want to wake up to the next morning. We won't spend weeks or months off the grid, but possibly days/a week here and there. Mainly, we want the freedom to do so whenever the mood strikes us, so we want to be ready for more time off the grid than we anticipate now.

We are definitely considering an extended warranty. While we're eager to learn, and capable of learning, we're also the people who couldn't get the door to our garage to open when the locking mechanism went bad, and by the time we were done with our efforts to repair it, the entire mechanism had fallen inside the door, we had a big hole on one side, half the key plate stuck to the other side, and ended up needing a whole new door, and someone to install it. So there's that....  ;D

Isaac-1

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2018, 01:00:21 PM »
Susan, you mentioned classes, there are some introduction to RV maintenance classes out there designed to teach new RV owners some basic maintenance sort of items.  I know of two in east Texas alone, Escapee's has their RV boot camp https://www.escapees.com/education/rvers-boot-camp/ which is mostly a 3 day systems overview, but from what I have read also covers some maintenance, their headquarters location is in Livingston Texas, most of the boot camps are taught there, but they also hold them nationally.   The NRVIA (National RV Inspectors Association) is also now headquartered in Athens, Texas and is just now finishing up building their new 16,000 sq ft training center there, it was 80% complete when I was their for the annual conference a month ago, close enough to being finished to use the main floor for the conference, they hope to have it fully complete by the end of the year.  The NRVIA already offers maintenance tech course which are 5-6 days long and designed to teach basic RV maintenance, this course is one of the routes one may take to become a level 1 RV inspectors.  I have not taken it, but when I did my level 2 inspector course earlier this year most of the other fellow students had just completed the maintenance tech course the week before.  See https://rvtechcourse.com/  I think both have their place, the Boot Camp is more RV living stuff, the tech course costs a LOT more but is probably more intense and is 2 days longer, they also offer a home study version with online videos cheaper, though they are less detailed and better for people that already have some skills.

Ike

p.s. the NRVIA is planning on having more RV owner oriented training programs once the new training center building is complete, though exact details are still unknown.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

Optimistic Paranoid

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2018, 01:44:51 PM »
Isaac-1 is certainly right about the Escapee's RV Boot Camp.

Another organization, the Family Motor Coach Association - aka FMCA - has a similar program.  Details here:

https://site.fmca.com/rv-education-101

Take a look at their videos, too:

https://site.fmca.com/fmca-videos
« Last Edit: November 03, 2018, 01:47:11 PM by Optimistic Paranoid »
Rule #1 for Boondockers: DON'T FEED THE VULTURES!
My Body is a Temple!  Ancient, Crumbling, Probably Cursed...
I don't like to make advanced plans.  They cause the word "PREMEDITATED" to get used in court!

muskoka guy

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2018, 01:57:05 PM »
If you NEED internet, pretty much count on getting a hotspot for your own personal use. Verizon does seem to have the best coverage. An unlimited plan can be had for about fifty or sixty dollars a month, but usually requires a term agreement. DO NOT count on getting wifi from campgrounds. After staying at literally hundreds of rv campgrounds, I can tell you I can probably count on one hand ones that had any degree of good wifi. We had a verizon hotspot, and it worked almost flawlessly over most of North America where we traveled. If it is used for business, Im sure you can claim it as a business expense anyway. Some parks we stayed at had upgraded internet you could buy per month at an additional price. There is a learning curve when it comes to rvs, but you have made the first big step in getting the knowledge, by joining the great group of people on this forum.  Cheers

ArdraF

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2018, 02:31:37 PM »
Quote
Did most of you come into it with skills, or did you learn them along the way?

I don't believe many people start RVing with the skills needed, partially because they tend to be a bit different than those in a stick-and-brick setting.  We were lucky to purchase a Monaco back when it was an independent company.  When we went to the Monaco rallies a wide array of seminars were made available to members and they were somewhat specific to Monaco which was nice.  We learned a lot from those seminars!  We also joined Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) and attended their rallies which also have a variety of seminars.  We've attended seminars (some multiple times over the years) on just about every conceivable RV subject - batteries, solar, 12-volt vs. 120-volt use, water systems, electrical systems, etc.  We both attended those seminars.  I had virtually no experience in such things but have learned a lot through the years.  Jerry was an engineer originally but more mechanical than electrical so he too learned a lot.

We also bought maintenance-oriented books and read RVing magazines to learn about 12-volt systems, how to sanitize fresh water tanks, how to dump waste tanks, how to maintain the engine, how to buy new RV tires, etc..  Finally, we were lucky to buy new motorhomes that came with a lot of manuals and we both read all of them cover-to-cover.  When we got our first diesel I drove the first 1,400 miles while Jerry read manuals and learned everything he could about diesel engines.  Even if you buy a used motorhome it should have a basic set of manuals included.

You seem to have settled on a motorhome.  If I were in your shoes I would aim to buy one with 50-amp power and a built-in generator.  Many are prewired for solar panels.  With a couple of them you should be able to handle most power situations.  It may take a while to learn power management techniques, but it's mostly just common sense and not rocket science.  And, as you've learned, there's quite a group of knowledgeable people right here on the RV Forum to help answer questions.

By the way, as I've read your posts I've wondered about one thing.  You say you want to downsize to a smaller house and then go traveling for a few years.  Do you plan on returning to the new home on occasion?  It might make more sense to sell the old house, bank the house money, go traveling, and then think about buying that downsized house when you're ready to settle down.  I ask because there's a certain amount of effort to maintain a house while traveling.  You'll have expenses for utilities, insurance, perhaps someone to look after it, etc.  Many full-timers are truly that with only the motorhome to live in and worry about.  Some start by saying they'll travel for 2-3 years and then settle down, but many find they enjoy their lifestyle so much that they're still traveling ten years later.  If you ended up being one of the latter then you'd have home ownership for ten years but wouldn't be there to enjoy it.  It's something to think about.

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

SusanV

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2018, 03:12:01 PM »
Thank you for the class suggestions and the links. All of them bookmarked, and it makes a lot of sense for us to start working in that direction so when we're ready to buy and head out we're REALLY ready (as much as we can be). I'm just blown away by the patience shown by forum members for people new to this lifestyle, and for the willingness to share knowledge and suggestions. It's been immensely helpful, even in the short time I've been doing research.

We'll be downsizing to a much smaller home (we're in a 5 bed/4 bath with a pool right now), and our son will be living in it while he establishes himself in his chosen career. We're going to buy in an area near family so he's got a nearby support system as well as a mentor for networking (my brother already does what our son wants to do). Once we're ready to return to a stationary lifestyle, he'll be established and we'll hopefully have a much better idea of where we actually want to live. At that point we'll sell the motorhome and the house, and invest in a new home. We won't take the massive tax hit if we roll our funds into the temporary home, and we'll be able to pay cash to avoid having a mortgage. There is an up-and-coming area near my brother, where prices are still moderate, the area will hold its value as it transitions to luxury housing, and we should make a small profit. We think we can also purchase the motorhome outright, so no payments other than insurance/repairs/etc. At least, that's the plan.

Isaac-1

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2018, 04:33:58 PM »
One comment on the FMCA rally seminars, I have only attended one regional FMCA rally so my knowledge is limited, however the seminars they had were mostly not that impressive.  Most (all?) were taught by vendors who had booths in the exhibit hall, and most were infomercial like sales pitches with a few general tidbits thrown in, though a few were informational in their own right.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

ArdraF

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2018, 05:28:36 PM »
I'm sorry you've had that experience, Isaac, because we've learned a ton of information from both the Monaco and FMCA seminars.  Maybe a newbie should look at it this way.  They know zero about 12-volt systems (or batteries or solar or satellite TV or whatever) so a seminar will at least get them started with some basic information, even if it is somewhat like an infomercial.  I hope you'll have a more fruitful experience next time!

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

kdbgoat

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2018, 04:33:45 AM »
We met a lady in South Carolina that tent camps. She does tech manual editing or writing, and needs reliable internet. She goes to the local library with her laptop to do her work. She had been doing that for a while, and it worked very well for her.
I know you believe you understand what you think I said,
But I am not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant

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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2018, 09:53:46 AM »
The "seminars" at FMCA or other rallies are simply short briefings with a fairly narrow focus and substantially different than something like RV Education 101, a 2.5 day workshop on a variety of RV topics and geared toward newcomers.  Yes, the seminars are basically infomercials, but that doesn't make them useless. Just recognize they are somewhat one-sided in their recommendations. They are, however, aimed at people who already have RVs and at least some experience with them.
Gary
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Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Lou Schneider

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2018, 12:05:37 PM »
Isaac-1 mentioned Escapees' RV Boot Camp above, also check out their Xscapers group.  Ir's a community within the Escapees Club aimed towards working age RVers, many of whom earn a living using their PCs while they travel in their RVs.

You get full access to everything Escapees offers, plus the Xscapers put on frequent gatherings called Convergences where they meet and share experiences.  They're not full fledged rallies, but less formal gatherings with activities scheduled around the need for working time.

https://www.xscapers.com
« Last Edit: November 04, 2018, 12:26:48 PM by Lou Schneider »

Optimistic Paranoid

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2018, 12:14:09 PM »
The "seminars" at FMCA or other rallies are simply short briefings with a fairly narrow focus and substantially different than something like RV Education 101, a 2.5 day workshop on a variety of RV topics and geared toward newcomers.

I haven't been to the FMCA RV Basics, but it appears - from their website - to be something NEW for them.  It is also 2.5 days, and held just before their NATIONAL rally, so apparently not something done at their regional rallies.
Rule #1 for Boondockers: DON'T FEED THE VULTURES!
My Body is a Temple!  Ancient, Crumbling, Probably Cursed...
I don't like to make advanced plans.  They cause the word "PREMEDITATED" to get used in court!

SusanV

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2018, 01:06:02 PM »
Lou Schneider, that link is incredibly useful! Thank you for that. I've only had a brief skim so far, but a lot of my business-related questions appear to have answers there. Much appreciated!

CincyGus

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2018, 07:55:40 PM »
I will add another area that has been educational for many to learn about different aspects of RV life and repairing or upgrading systems in their RV's. Good old YouTube. There are many "Channels" dedicated to people doing educational RV stuff along with people that are Fulltiming and either have just started on that journey or have been at it for years.

Some of my favorites are:

RV with Tito DIY (A lot of great upgrade video's)
I'm Not Lost I'm RVing (Young couple that just started FTing in June of 2018)
Haylett RV (Josh the RV nerd explains some things about differences in RV's that were quite informative and helpful in my choosing RV's)
All About RV's ( A lot of upgrade and repair along with general RV knowledge)
Technomadia (The Technology resource destination for WIFI/Internet and Cell connectivity for RV folks)
Mobile Internet Resource Center (Technomadia's sister site)
Campendium (Another great repair/how does that work site)
RV 101 (Older video's but many are still good information)

Sign up for a YouTube account if you don't already have one, type in the above channel and subscribe and any time they upload a new video, it will show in your channel listing. I've learned a ton from the above channels as I'm a very visual person and sometimes seeing is a lot easier for me than reading and trying to picture something.

Best of luck on your journey to prepare for your new lifestyle.
2015 2500K Sierra Denali --- 2019 Forest River Wolfpack 23PACK15 --- 2014 EZGO Golf Cart

SusanV

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2018, 07:17:51 AM »
I just watched my first YouTube video yesterday (the one about dealing with a blow-out) and wondered if there might be quite a bit available on videos. Your suggestions are incredibly timely! Thank you! We already have our own YouTube channel, so I'll sign up to follow these suggestions. Brilliant!

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2018, 10:28:40 AM »
There are well over 100 RV "Channels" on YouTube, but some of them are dealer or product sales oriented so keep that in mind if it seems to be heavily focused on one brand or item. Still useful, though.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

decaturbob

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2018, 08:38:51 AM »
Hi all. My husband and I are still in the planning stages for downsizing to a smaller house, purchasing a (Class A) motorhome, and spending a year or two traveling. I've been reading the forum voraciously, including lots of useful links, and two issues are starting to gnaw at me.

It seems most people on here are pretty savvy when it comes to mechanical/technical aspects of motorhomes, with knowledge that makes my brain spin. We are not "handy-persons" by anyone's standards, though we're willing to learn, and capable of learning when it isn't a Friday at 5pm (Gin and Tonic hour). Did most of you come into it with skills, or did you learn them along the way?

The second issue I'm getting a bit nervous about it energy availability and consumption. We lean heavily toward having or adding solar panels, but this decision to take to the road will be primarily a work decision, and our work requires extensive internet use. How realistic is it to have online access, and to draw power for several hours of laptop use each day (two laptops being used at the same time)? I'm starting to worry that we really won't be able to maintain the ability to work, and that would be a stopper.

Internet access and bandwidth is an ongoing problem. If you need internet to conduct business on a daily basis, it can be very problematic.  I have used wifi boosters, 4g hotspots and cell phone data and if NO or weak signals are all you got, well, you will not have internet.   As for solar panels, are you planning to be boondocking all the time?  A few hours of laptop time could be handled by the coach batteries.  You might considered have another bank of coach batteries too.
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johnaye

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2018, 02:50:07 PM »

The second issue I'm getting a bit nervous about it energy availability and consumption. We lean heavily toward having or adding solar panels, but this decision to take to the road will be primarily a work decision, and our work requires extensive internet use. How realistic is it to have on line access, and to draw power for several hours of laptop use each day (two laptops being used at the same time)? I'm starting to worry that we really won't be able to maintain the ability to work, and that would be a stopper.

I am full time and have been for several years.  I also work and need internet access.  Generally I have found internet access very problematic in the parks I have stayed in.  Wi-Fi in most parks that I have been in is weak and even the parks where you pay for internet the speed and service are not very good.  In addition most free Wi-Fi, which parks advertise, is not secure which should concern your employer.  Speed is often dependant on the number of users in the Park.  My solution is to stay at one  park for an extended period of time.  I only stay in parks where I can sign up for wired internet, DSL or cable.  I have used my phone as a hotspot in a pinch, but the speed is not very good.  If you are planning on boondocking, then I have no idea what you will do as many areas will not have cell service.  You could explore something like Hughes Net which is a satellite provider, but I suspect this will be a very expensive option.
John and Becky
2004 Alfa See Ya DP
2008 Honda CRV

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Isaac-1

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2018, 04:29:31 PM »
I think part of the problem with this question of internet access for work purposes depends on the specific need.     

On one end you have people that need to exchange emails containing typical document files that are  typically 1-20 megabytes in size and can be done (though slowly) over just about any type of internet connection, the point for them is to have some type of live connection so they know when an email comes in, etc.

On the other end you have people doing professional video editing sending multi gigabyte files back and forth multiple times per day who will not be happy with even the fastest 4G cell connection because 30 minutes is too long to wait for their 5 minute long ultra HD video to upload.

In the middle are those people that may need to do more than send and receive documents, such as participating in webinars, sending short lower resolution videos, or large numbers of photos back and forth.

Without knowing which group you fit into it is hard to answer this question, also how time sensitive is your internet need, if it is mostly documents, but occasional video conference with flexible timing, then a 4G cell mifi hotspot may work fine for you.  Also keep in mind the cell network is getting better every year, so if you can put up with marginal today, it may be on average much better in a year or two.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

SusanV

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #25 on: November 09, 2018, 04:38:58 PM »
We're going to have to send large documents, lots of photos, and both send and upload videos, but each of these things will only happen weekly rather than daily. It would be fantastic if we could do Facetime or Skype, but that's less important than the ability to send and upload photos and video.

I'm pretty sure we'll need some sort of booster, but I'm also pretty sure we can make happen what needs to happen, and it won't be a stopper. I just have to plan carefully so that we know our requirements, and how to solve the problem when internet is poor or non-existent at a campground or other overnight location. I'm encouraged by the info I'm finding here, even as I'm concerned by some of the experiences I've read.

SeilerBird

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #26 on: November 09, 2018, 04:56:00 PM »
These days it is usually easy to find a high speed Internet connection. Every public library, every McDonalds and just about every coffee shop has it. You won't find high speed in a campground unless you bring it with you. Project Fi might be just the ticket for you:

http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php/topic,110136.msg1065790.html#msg1065790
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Isaac-1

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #27 on: November 09, 2018, 07:24:56 PM »
I saw something in one of the RV forums yesterday where Verizon has a new unlimited pre-paid data plan for about $65 per month.  See this page, scroll down to the tablet and jetpack plans https://www.verizonwireless.com/prepaid/
2002 Safari Trek 2830

JudyJB

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #28 on: November 09, 2018, 10:05:38 PM »
Actually, I would recommend two hotspots and a backup laptop!  If you are just surfing the internet, you can make do for a couple of days if something breaks, but if you are really working online, you need backups.

I also keep portable hard drives--one in a safe in my motorhome where I back things up every month, another in a safety deposit box near one of my sons' houses, and a third at another son's house.  I switch them around periodically to make sure they are all current.  If I every have a hard drive failure or an accident with the motorhome, I will not have lost every electronic document I own! 
Full-timing for over six years in a
2012 Fleetwood Tioga Ranger 31N

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Still in the planning stages, with two nagging worries.
« Reply #29 on: November 10, 2018, 08:09:22 AM »
You don't have to guess about this or wait till you have an RV - try it out now.   If you have a smartphone, you can access the internet directly via cellular data service, and you can also use it as a "hotspot" (wifi) for your computers.  Better yet, buy a dedicated cell data modem/hotspot and start using it for your daily affairs.

Obviously performance will vary with the cell service wherever you are, both because of the quality of service and the number of people competing for the cellular bandwidth at an moment. Experiment in multiple locations to see the range of usability.  If you camp in a remote mountain valley, chances are the cell signal doesn't reach it all, so no phone or internet. And if you camp at a rock concert, odds are there are hundreds of people all trying to do send Facebook videos at the same time (and none succeeding). In between that is a broad range of perfromance.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL